Coursework on Approaches To Ecology

There are several environmental factors that interact in a particular locality, due to the existence of the variety of environmental factors, there are several approaches for undertaking ecological investigations. Each approach has its own merits and demerits.

Thus, ecologists use one of the suitable approaches to understanding a particular ecological phenomenon. The ecological approaches consist of, population approach or autecology, community approach or synecology, the ecosystem approach, habitat approach, evolutionary approach, and historical approach.


  1. Population approach (Autecology): This approach is based on the study of individual species; it accounts for the interrelationship between an individual species and its environment. Thus, the unit of population approach is individual species.
  2. Community approach (Synecology): Instead of studying single or individual species, the whole community and its environments are considered for ecological studies. Therefore, the study of different communities, their relation to each other, and their environment is called synecology. This type of study has developed the concept of succession and climax i.e. progressive replacement of one community by a more stable community and growth of it in a particular area.
  3. Ecosystem approach: This is the most recent development in ecology. The ecosystem is the highest level of biological organization; all ecological concepts can be set within this framework. This approach is based on two things, the flow of energy and the cycling of matter between living and non-living components.
    This system introduces a concept of self-regulation and self-sufficiency. Thus, living organisms and their non-living environment interact in the most coordinated form and any disturbance may lead to biological disturbance.
  4. Habitat approach: The organism is adapted to a particular condition of the habitat e.g. a shallow, fast-moving cold-water stream may be the habitat of a species of trout.
    This approach is easy to define; hence, it is widely used. The study of physical environments like soil, moisture, temperature, and light is also a convenient study. It can be further divided into microhabitats or small habitats with their own special conditions.
  5. Evolutionary approach: This approach is linked with the evolutionary trend. It tells us about the changes since life evolved and may predict future changes as well. However, this study also needs the use of fossil records.
  6. Historical approach: It deals with the changes associated with the development of tools in man’s history. Thus, its period starts from Stone Age i.e. 1500 to 300 B.C. Through this approach, long-term ecological planning is done and new trends can be pointed out.

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